No. 10 refuses to release 'Russian interference' report until after the election

PUBLISHED: 17:04 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:45 06 November 2019

Dominic Grieve has called on Boris Johnson to release a report about alleged Russian interference into British democracy. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Dominic Grieve has called on Boris Johnson to release a report about alleged Russian interference into British democracy. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

A report into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum is unlikely to be published until after the general election, it has emerged.

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The 50-page document, produced by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), considers allegations that Russian-backed activity was behind the result of the 2016 referendum, among other concerns.

The committee's chair Dominic Grieve has called on the government to release the report, but Downing Street has said it will take around six weeks to clear.

Speaking to Sky News, the former attorney general earlier said the claims were "completely and totally untrue".

"It's a lie. I really get worried about this. The process of getting this report cleared is finished," he said.

He said that this last stage of the clearance process - the prime minister's approval - should take no more than about 10 days, and that Number 10's claims were "astonishing".

MORE: Boris Johnson accused of 'sitting on' report into Russian interference in British democracy

The report has already been cleared by intelligence agencies, in what Grieve believes is the near-culmination of an 18-month process.

According to the Guardian, the dossier was sent to Downing Street on October 17, and political approval was expected by the end of last week.

However, Downing Street has insisted: "There are processes reports such as this have to go through before publication. The committee is well informed of these."

Grieve said that the prime minister's press office must be aware that it doesn't take this long. "They must know it," he said. "They can go ask the Cabinet Office how this system works, and they will be told by the Cabinet Office that it is a 10-day process."

He added: "I find it really worrying. What on earth is going on?"

The report is understood to look at the influence of Russian money on British politics, particularly on the Conservative party, as well as claims of a pro-Brexit Russian operation during the 2016 referendum.

The ISC oversees the work of the agencies - MI5, MI6 and GCHQ - and has access to highly sensitive intelligence material.

Its reports are submitted to the government before publication to ensure no sensitive information is inadvertently made public.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for foreign affairs Chuka Umunna has written to the cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, asking him to do "everything in his power" to release the report before the election.

"It is unacceptable that Boris Johnson is blocking the publication of this report until after the election. It undermines our democratic process," he said.

"The report may contain crucial information that the Liberal Democrats believe should be in the public domain before the country goes to the polls."

In his letter to Sedwill, Umunna also raised concerns about Dominic Cummings after reports in the Sunday Times that the senior adviser is not allowed to see all internal documents despite having been vetted.

"These reports suggest that despite reportedly having received Developed Vetting status, he is prevented from seeing some aspects of government business," wrote Umunna. "I would ask you to clarify if this is the case, and if so why it is necessary to prevent him seeing certain aspects of business."

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The New European has contacted the Cabinet Office for comment.

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